Mind and Body

Lose your jelly belly

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 (iStock)

Whittle your waist
Carrying extra weight around your midsection increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The good news? You can combat belly fat with exercise and a smart diet, improving your overall health and the shape of your waistline. Do these five ab-flattening exercises three times a week. All you need is a firm but comfortable place to lie down (use a mat if you like), a broomstick and a little determination.

Windshield wiper
Lie on your back with your arms out to the side and knees bent. Keep your knees together, feet lifted and shoulders firmly on the floor while you rotate your knees to the right, then lower them toward the floor. Return knees to center and rotate them to the left. Return to center. Do 10 touches on each side, working your way up to 20.

The vacuum
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath that noticeably extends your belly. Exhale all the air out and pull your belly button in toward your spineā€•as if your stomach and lower back could meet. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold for 2 seconds, then relax your abdominal muscles and breathe normally. Repeat 10 times.

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Broomstick lifts
Holding a broomstick, lie on the floor with your legs and arms extended, palms facing the ceiling. Lift the broom off the floor over your head, coming to a seated position, as you bend and lift your knees until your calves are parallel to the floor. Bring the broomstick to your knees (or as far as you can go). Hold for 2 seconds, then return to start. Repeat 10 times. Work your way up to 20.

The plank
Lie on your stomach and rest on your forearms. Lift your body off the ground so your weight is resting on your elbows and toes. Keep your abs tight and try to make a straight line from your head to heels. Hold for 15 seconds, rest and repeat three times. Over time, increase the hold in five-second increments until you've worked up to a full minute.

Torso twists
Sitting with your knees bent, feet on floor and hands on your hips, draw your abdominals in. Lean back slightly and soften your back, making a slight C-shape with your torso. (The farther you lean back, the more challenging the exercise.) Next, rotate your entire torso (not just your shoulders), starting at your hips, to your right side. Return to the center, then turn to the left. Return to center and repeat for 20 to 30 seconds.